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Teamwork Makes the Conversational AI Dream Work

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

At Creative Virtual, we are dedicated to working as a team to help our customers and partners reach their customer experience and employee support goals. It’s at the heart of everything we do, from the initial development stages of our conversational AI technology to the ongoing evolution of  V-Person™ deployments that have been live for a decade or more. The fact that our very first enterprise-level customer has worked with us continuously since 2004 tells us that we are doing something right!

While we don’t do what we do for external awards and recognitions, it’s always a nice boost for morale to have experts in the industry acknowledge Creative Virtual’s expertise and success. We are proud that our dedication and teamwork have led us to be named a Conversational AI Leader by the analysts at ISG in their ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions & Services report!

Here’s Mrinal Rai, Lead Analyst at ISG Research, explaining why Creative Virtual has been identified as a Leader in Conversational AI:

 

 

In their Quadrant Report, the ISG analysts evaluated 19 conversational AI vendors against a robust set of market-driven criteria. They found Creative Virtual to be “an established vendor with a focus on developing omnichannel virtual agent solutions” and a clear Leader in the space.

Conversational AI

If you want to learn more, you can:

  • Review a copy of the ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions & Services report featuring the Conversational AI Quadrant: Download here >>
  • Explore a discussion on conversational AI featuring expert insights from Mrinal Rai, Lead Analyst at ISG, Jan Erik Aase, Partner & Global Head – ISG Provider Lens, and Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO of Creative Virtual: Watch on YouTube >>
  • Arrange a personalised demo with the Creative Virtual team to see our conversational AI technology in action: Request demo here >>

We know that to continue to be a Conversational AI Leader, we must keep working as a team to ensure our solutions are both innovative and delivering real business benefits. The entire company is currently collaborating on our next product release, Gluon, set to be introduced to the market next year. This release includes updates to our chatbot, virtual agent, and live chat technologies as well as a re-architecture of our V-Portal™ orchestration platform. Be sure to check out our Gluon sneak peek.

Our thanks to the team at ISG for naming us a Conversational AI Leader and sending us this great video. And to echo Mrinal’s well wishes: Congratulations Team Creative Virtual!

Successful Conversational AI: Blending Machine Learning & Human Intelligence, Part 3

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

In February ISG, a leading global technology research and advisory firm, published their ‘ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions & Services’ report. Mrinal Rai, Principal Analyst at ISG, and his team evaluated 19 conversational AI vendors in the report, identifying Creative Virtual as a Leader in the highly competitive quadrant.

I joined Mrinal and Jan Erik Aase, Partner and Global Head – ISG Provider Lens, recently on a Zoom session for a discussion about conversational AI. Mrinal kicked things off by diving into the conversational AI quadrant and his research. He outlined the key factors that led to Creative Virtual emerging as a clear Leader in his evaluation.

Jan Erik and I then discussed a number of conversational AI questions that ISG see coming up with their advisors as well as their clients. In my previous posts, I’ve shared the first two parts of that conversation during which we covered current trends and developments, the changing roles of contact centre agents, barriers to achieving success, and the impact of the pandemic. You can watch Part 1 here and watch Part 2 here.

In the third, and final part of our conversation, we delved into the following question: When setting project goals, what KPIs should organisations identify and what results should they expect?

This is a really important question for organisations as they build their business case for a conversational AI solution. About five years ago, there was a big focus on contact deflection when implementing these tools. While this is still important, we find it to be less important as the focus has shifted more to improving the customer experience (CX). Organisations recognise CX as an important differentiator today in competitive marketplaces.

This same sort of thinking also applies to internal solutions, whether that be a solution deployed within the contact centre or one designed for employee support in areas such as service desk, IT support, HR support, and employee onboarding. Supporting employees is more important than ever and, with the right tools in place, presents an opportunity to improve productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction.

Check out Part 3 of our ‘Successful Conversational AI: Blending Machine Learning & Human Intelligence’ discussion for more on KPIs and results:

 

 

A big thank you to Mrinal and Jan Erik for taking the time for this discussion, as well as to Katie Dickens and Thomas Victor at ISG for working behind the scenes on arranging and producing the recordings of our session!

If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to download a copy of the ISG Provider Lens™ – Conversational AI Quadrant Report.

If you’d like to learn more about Creative Virtual’s expert consultation and see our conversational AI technology in action, sign up here for a personalised demo session with a member of our global team.

Successful Conversational AI: Blending Machine Learning & Human Intelligence, Part 2

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

In February ISG, a leading global technology research and advisory firm, published their ‘ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions & Services’ report. The report evaluates 19 conversational AI vendors against a set of market-driven criteria and places Creative Virtual firmly in the Leader category within the quadrant.

Recently I joined Mrinal Rai, Principal Analyst at ISG, and Jan Erik Aase, Partner and Global Head – ISG Provider Lens, for a discussion on conversational AI over Zoom. In my last post I shared Part 1 of our nearly half hour chat. During the first part of the discussion, Mrinal shared why ISG identified Creative Virtual as an industry leader in their report. Jan Erik and I also discussed current conversational AI trends as well as the evolving role of contact centre agents. You can watch Part 1 here.

In Part 2 of our discussion (scroll down to watch the video), Jan Erik and I address two more questions:

  • What are the biggest barriers organisations face when it comes to building, deploying, and maintaining successful projects?
  • What impact has the pandemic had on the implementation and usage of conversational AI tools?

One key barrier to success that we explore is not having a team with the right skills and experience. Often organisations try to tackle conversational AI projects internally with a lack of knowledge and a toolset that doesn’t enable them to scale the solution to different channels, additional departments, etc. or support enough users simultaneously as the project expands. This sets the whole project up for failure. When it comes to conversational AI, knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does.

Jan Erik and I also touch on issues some projects face when integration points and APIs aren’t readily available or accessible. Creating a personalised, omnichannel support experience really needs the conversational AI tool to be properly integrated with other systems. The contact centre not being a part of the organisation’s digital strategy is another common barrier we encounter. This is starting to change, but until company structures are more joined up in this regard, we’ll continue to see this as a widespread challenge.

The need to have the contact centre as part of the digital strategy was highlighted over the past year by the pandemic. We saw record traffic to our virtual agents and chatbots in 2020 as customers turned to online self-service for quick answers to their questions. For many of the organisations we work with, having a well-established conversational AI solution was a lifesaver as their contact centres dealt with an overwhelming volume of calls at the same time as new public health measures designed to keep agents safe.

Having a human-in-the-loop combined with machine learning gave our customers the ability to change responses within their virtual agent quickly, safely, and securely so they could deliver reliable, up-to-date information. In fact, one of our customers found that updating their virtual agent was quicker and easier than updating content on their website. Their contact centre recognised that the virtual agent was helping to reduce call volumes and proactively provided feedback and new content to add based on incoming calls from customers.

Check out Part 2 of our ‘Successful Conversational AI: Blending Machine Learning & Human Intelligence’ discussion:

 

My next post will take a look at Part 3 of our session where we discuss setting goals and identifying KPIs for conversational AI projects. In the meantime, be sure to download your copy of the ISG Provider Lens™ – Conversational AI Quadrant Report.

Successful Conversational AI: Blending Machine Learning & Human Intelligence, Part 1

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

In February ISG, a leading global technology research and advisory firm, published their ‘ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions & Services’ report. In the report Mrinal Rai, Principal Analyst at ISG, evaluated 19 conversational AI vendors based on a set of market-driven criteria. The result of that evaluation placed Creative Virtual as the clear Leader in conversational AI, surpassing all other vendors with our competitive strengths.

Recently Mrinal and I (virtually!) sat down with Jan Erik Aase, Partner and Global Head – ISG Provider Lens, for a discussion on conversational AI. Our conversation covered a lot of ground, including current industry trends, the impact of the pandemic, and setting conversational AI project goals. We talked about the findings of ISG’s research as well as current successful conversational AI implementations.

We have divided our nearly 30-minute-long discussion into three parts, the first of which I’m excited to share with you in this post (scroll to the bottom to watch Part 1).

Jan Erik and Mrinal start off the discussion by diving into the ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report and why Creative Virtual has been identified as a Leader. Mrinal points out that when it comes to conversational AI, it’s not just about the solutions themselves but also how they blend with human intelligence. His evaluation focused on both V-Person™ (our virtual agent, chatbot, and live chat technology) and V-Portal™ (our innovative orchestration platform). The power of our technology to blend machine learning and human intelligence along with our strong presence in the market were the key factors that led to ISG positioning Creative Virtual as a Leader in the space.

I then joined the conversation to discuss with Jan Erik some questions that ISG see coming up with their advisors as well as their clients. In Part 1 of the discussion, we explore:

  • What current trends and developments in conversational AI are important when evaluating virtual agent and chatbot management platforms?
  • With conversational AI now being a key part of omnichannel support strategies, how are the roles and responsibilities of contact centre agents and customer service professionals evolving?

Check out Part 1 of our ‘Successful Conversational AI: Blending Machine Learning & Human Intelligence’ discussion:

 

 

My next post will take a look at Part 2 of our session where we explore some of the biggest barriers organisations face when it comes to building, deploying, and maintaining successful conversational AI projects. In the meantime, be sure to download your copy of the ISG Provider Lens™ – Conversational AI Quadrant Report.

Conversational AI Data and Powerful Customer Insights

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

These days it can be easy to feel like we’re in a constant state of information overload. The 24-hour news cycle combined with social media and the ability to Google anything always at our fingertips makes it difficult to escape the relentless barrage of information. This can also make it difficult to discern what information is genuinely important and worthy of our time.

The same is true when it comes to your organisation’s customer experience (CX). There is information floating around everywhere on customer behaviours, preferences, and sentiments. However, it can be a struggle to gather and identify the customer insights that are meaningful and most important for your CX strategy.

In fact, Gartner analyst Augie Ray identified ‘looking in the wrong places for customer insight’ as one of the key mistakes that kill CX programmes in their infancy. He points out that you can’t expect customer-centric results from a strategy that is not based on real customer insight and understanding. Likewise, you won’t be able to measure the impact of your programme if you aren’t gathering and analysing customer feedback, sentiment, and experiences.

Conversational AI is growing in popularity among businesses and their customers because of the positive self-service experience high-quality virtual agents and chatbots are delivering. However, organisations should never overlook the added benefits they gain by analysing the conversational data these tools can collect.

In a chatbot vendor selection guide, conversational AI expert Ridhi Mathur explains:

“In this era of data, a sophisticated virtual agent can play a very significant role for many businesses. The conversational data collected is very rich. It can be analysed and mined to understand your customers’ views, identify developing trends and make informed predictions, which can in turn contribute to areas such as product or service innovations and marketing.”

As you are developing your CX programme and selecting tools, be sure to keep this in mind. You want to implement a conversational AI solution that is not only built based on a deep understanding of your customers but will enable you to gather valuable customer data as well. You also want to ensure that you are properly analysing that data to assist with ongoing improvements to your CX and inform other areas of your business, such as product development and marketing programmes.

The customer insights that can be provided by chatbots and virtual agents are too beneficial to overlook when you are selecting a technology to implement. Consider this as you are reviewing conversational AI pricing options. Purchasing a chatbot without the right tools for data collection and reporting functionality never pays off, no matter how much money you might think you are saving. It is also key to work with a provider that has the expertise to assist you with mining and analysing the conversational data to maximise your benefit.

If you need some help cutting through the information overload when it comes to selecting a conversational AI vendor, check out the ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions & Services. This report provides an independent, market-driven evaluation of the industry and comparison of 19 conversational AI providers.

Selecting the Right Conversational AI Vendor Makes All the Difference

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

It’s been a tough year for every organisation and one that created a renewed, and often urgent, push for digital transformation projects. In their new ISG Provider Lens™ Intelligent Automation – Solutions and Services study, the experts at ISG found that the market for conversational AI has shown a steady growth over that time. This and other intelligent automation technologies are helping enterprises optimise costs and productivity while also enabling them to stay prepared for the future.

With conversational AI now at the forefront of many digital experience strategies, ISG evaluated 19 vendors based on the depth of their service offerings and market presence. I’m very proud that Creative Virtual is a Leader in Conversational AI, surpassing all other vendors with our company’s competitive strengths! The analysts at ISG found Creative Virtual to be a Leader based on our comprehensive solution portfolio and industry experience, emphasizing our long history of developing and delivering conversational AI solutions that provide real results.

Conversational AI

When it comes to implementing conversational AI tools to support your customers, employees, and contact centre agents, selecting the right vendor makes all the difference. This doesn’t just mean the technology; you must also consider the experience and expertise of the vendor’s team. It is the combination of these two factors that will set your project up for success.

I’ve talked before about how much the virtual agent and chatbot space has changed since I founded Creative Virtual in late 2003. What hasn’t changed over that time is Creative Virtual’s commitment to delivering the best combination of innovative technology and expert consultation and guidance to our customers. We strive to become a trusted partner to each of our customers, getting to know their organisation and specific goals in order to deliver customised solutions. We also use these close relationships to gather input for our R&D roadmap to ensure we continue to innovate in a way that will help companies tackle their real challenges and deliver real results, now and in the future. This is what allows Creative Virtual to be a conversational AI Leader today.

In our Leader profile in this ISG report, the analysts note: “Creative Virtual is a well-known and established brand for AI-enabled client support”. In fact, our very first enterprise-level customer is still a customer today, working with us continuously for over 17 years now. We also have several other organisations that we’ve been able to count as customers for at least 10 years. That level of experience and long-term collaboration is rare among vendors in today’s crowded conversational AI market, but extremely valuable.

The ISG Provider Lens™ is a great resource for anyone involved with selecting a conversational AI vendor to begin a new project or replace an existing, poor performing one. It provides:

  • An overview of the Intelligent Automation Solutions and Services market
  • Comparisons of conversational AI provider strengths, challenges, and competitive differentiators
  • Analysis of Creative Virtual’s product capabilities, industry expertise, and strategic partnerships

You can download a copy of the ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant Report here. Our team would also love to show you our technology in action, and you can request a personalised demo here.

Congratulations to the Creative Virtual team on our recognition as a conversational AI Leader in this independent ISG report!